Why We Need to Destigmatise Career Breaks

by | 26 Aug 2022

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So, you’ve found a candidate that seems to know their stuff, has a good attitude and presents well, but you notice a gap in their resume. Does that mean they should no longer be considered? In short, no.

Career breaks or gaps should not discourage employers from hiring potential candidates; in fact, it is often something that should be looked at positively.

Career breaks can provide candidates time to evaluate, focus and upskill and can help an employer understand someone’s story better than a job ever could. For example, did they take time to reassess their skills? Pivot careers? Focus their energy on family? Work in a different industry or travel?

From parental leave to a well-earned holiday or just taking time to recoup or upskill, a career gap can often demonstrate that an individual has taken time away from the workplace to focus on what is important to them, a value that should be admired in an employee.

The reality is that the workplace isn’t what it once was. These days, many people shift direction and change paths throughout their careers instead of working the same job day consistently over a number of years.

A survey by LinkedIn has revealed that 62% of employees have taken a break throughout their careers.  Yet despite this, the Australian HR Institute found that over 45% of employers – almost one in two- still have a negative perception and ongoing stigma around career gaps.

We have all heard the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” which certainly rings true when assessing a resume. A single page cannot accurately represent someone’s entire work history, attributes and goals; in the same way, a career gap does not define their ability to be a great employee.

Embracing a career break allows employers to better understand and empathise with candidates and also avoid missing out on top talent they otherwise may have overlooked.

Multiple short-term roles or periods without work shouldn’t put you off hiring someone, nor does it mean they are any less dedicated to a long-term career; if anything, it shows they have the ability to pick up skills quickly, assess their situation and make the right choices for them to be the most productive.

Many employers often assume someone is not serious about staying somewhere long-term because they see multiple career breaks or short-term work stints on a resume; however, flipping the perspective may actually demonstrate how they are focused on self-improvement, widening their knowledge and upskilling.

As an employer, it’s a good idea to take the time to understand and get to know an individual throughout the hiring process.

Recognising the whole person, not just them as a staff member, is essential. Rather than looking only at a candidate’s most recent experience, look at the skills they’ve developed throughout their professional and personal experiences.

Think of a new parent for example; being a mother or father for the first time is incredibly challenging and requires dedication, compassion, perseverance and the ability to work under immense pressure; this could give them a competitive edge in particular roles.

But most importantly, if a candidate has been out of work for a while and looking to return to the workforce, consider what skills they have acquired throughout that time by asking questions that include those of their experiences throughout their career break. Provide the candidate with an opportunity to share what they have learned and how it could be applied to the role, regardless of whether it was learnt outside of work.

Godfrey Group has a large talent pool of highly-qualified candidates who are looking to take on a new role after a career break, so get in contact with our specialist recruitment team today on 02 8004 9350.

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